The utter beauty of Debussy's soundscape

We are delighted to welcome back conductor Jac van Steen following the success of Intermezzo in 2015. Here he describes his preparations for Pelléas et Mélisande and what he is looking forward to about returning to Garsington to conduct the Philharmonia Orchestra's festival debut. 

I am about to open a Puccini double-bill with Opera North and his work, like Debussy's, has its own world. It is a challenge to resist getting over-sentimental and emotional, even with the verismo style, whereas Debussy leads us deep into our conscience and our being. While the last six weeks have involved intense preparation for the upcoming performances, I have also been working on schedules for Pelléas et Mélisande and reading Maeterlinck. Debussy is ready in the background to be put on the stand soon when I start work with Michael Boyd. 

The Philharmonia make their Garsington debut with this production of Pelléas et Mélisande. They are one of my favourite orchestras and they will be stunning. They know the music so well and care so much about the details that Garsington audiences will enjoy the utter beauty of this soundscape. This masterpiece is in their genes. 

I am looking forward to conducting again at Garsington. The quality of the operas is so high, and to be surrounded by nature in such a stunning setting is wonderful. I am also looking forward to being in front of the Garsington audience who give such a warm reception and have great respect for the special environment at Wormsley. Above all, it is a pleasure to see so many people happy.